Pauline McLynn

On this date in 1962, actress and author Pauline McLynn was born in Sligo, Ireland, to Padraig and Sheila McLynn. Six months later they moved to Galway, where she grew up and was educated by the Sisters of Mercy (one of the orders operating the infamous Magdalene Laundries) before enrolling at Trinity College-Dublin to study modern English and the history of art.

McLynn pursued an acting career after graduating and performed with all of the major Irish theater companies. She got her television start on RTÉ, Ireland’s public broadcaster, in the sitcom “Nothing to It?” She’s perhaps best-known for playing the housekeeper Mrs. Doyle on the British comedy “Father Ted,” which aired from 1995-98 and followed the misadventures of three Irish Catholic priests. She was featured in 24 episodes of the series “Shameless,” on which the American Showtime series starring William H. Macy is based.

McLynn won the British Comedy Award for “Top TV Comedy Actress” in 1996 for “Father Ted” and the 2007 Irish Film and Television Award for “Best Actress in a Lead Role in a Feature Film” for the movie “Gypo.” She’s had numerous other TV series and movie roles, including Aunt Aggie in the 1999 film “Angela’s Ashes.” Most recently as of this writing, she played Bunni in 52 episodes of “Drop Dead Weird” on the Australian Seven Network.

Married to theatrical agent Richard Cook since 1997, she has written 10 novels, the first three featuring private detective Leo Street, several short stories and a chapter of Yeats Is Dead, the serial novel by 15 Irish writers, including Frank McCourt.

In the three-part BBC miniseries “Pilgrimage: The Road to Istanbul” (2020), seven celebrities travel from Serbia to Turkey to promote tolerance for all beliefs and cultures. “I was christened a Catholic but I’m a secular person,” McLynn explained on the show, rejecting the notion that religious people have a monopoly on kindness and decency just because of their belief in God. “All of the talking about ‘Well, I like to be kind and everything,’ yeah, I do as well, but I just think that’s being a decent human being.” 

Freedom From Religion Foundation